Bush Camping Etiquette: How to Minimise Your Footprint
Bush camping is often the only way to really explore the beautiful and remote landscapes of Australia, which probably explains why it is such a popular activity. However, some campers risk spoiling it for others.
While many Australians treasure their ability to get out and camp in nature, there is a risk that we might be loving our natural environment to death.
Littering, illegal dumping, campfires not being properly extinguished and trees and vegetation being cut down are all increasing problems that are damaging our environment.
And, on top of that, there are some lazy campers who are not even bothering to follow proper bush toilet etiquette.
“You can’t really know Australia until you’ve been camping”
While most people are responsible campers and know the importance of minimising their impact on the environment, there are some that clearly need a reminder about being more thoughtful.
Here a list of bush camping rules:
Choosing your site
If campsites are provided or if there’s one where someone else has been recently, then set up camp there rather than starting a new one.
Always make sure you are at least 20 metres from any water source (lake, stream, creek etc).
While its always preferable for campers to take their own firewood, if you haven’t done this, then gather firewood well away from your camp area and only use dead fallen wood as fire wood.
Definitely do NOT cut down any trees!
Once you’ve got your fire going don’t leave it unattended and once you finally leave your campsite make sure it is completely out. If the ground underneath the coals is still warm use water to put it out.
Unfortunately poo and toilet paper are becoming a common sight along some of the nations favourite tracks and, let’s face it, there is nothing quite like evidence of human toilet activity to spoil your experience of nature.
Besides that, gastro (diarrhoea and vomiting) is on the increase in popular camping areas thanks to people not following the correct etiquette.
Poo (and your toilet paper) should be buried at least 15cms deep and at least 100 metres away from campsites and water courses.
So, make sure you take a shovel for this purpose.
Other items such as tampons and condoms should be put into your rubbish bin.
dealing with rubbish
If you are going bush camping it is your responsibility to carry rubbish back home or in bins. This includes food scraps as well as plastic packaging, bottles and cans.
Some people seem to think that burying their rubbish is acceptable but it is very likely to be dug up by wildlife. In addition to which, repeated digging could cause soil erosion and spread invasive weeds, both of which are damaging to the environment.
If you come across other people’s rubbish, then do us all a favour and pick it up.
Even if you’ve very consciously bought ‘green’ detergents, soaps and toothpaste, don’t use them near water courses because they will harm fish and other waterlife.
Make sure you do your washing activities at least 50 metres away from creeks and lakes and throw the water away on the soil.
travel nq fast facts
- Stick to the tracks when driving
- Leave campsites better than you found them
- Go in small groups to minimise your impact
- Plan your trip for times and places that are less popular